The River Runs Red
I grew up by the beach in Australia. It was hot, and that’s the way I liked it. For as long as I could remember, I have been fascinated by the woods, and having a cabin by water.
It’s not that strange really; I mean plenty of people have them in the movies, like a lake house or whatever. I like the idea of being close to nature, and I know what you’re thinking, you can be near nature in Australia. Well, I have news for you friend, Australia has countless creepy crawlies that can kill you. Redbacks and taipans are not my idea of fun.
So when the opportunity came from my uncle’s cousin twice removed, to house sit his place somewhere across the ocean in America, I jumped at it. I’m not completely sure where in the US, I mean it’s not like we got taught all the states of United States of America in class. I was lucky I even knew who Captain Cook was. All I know, is this place is a converted summer camp, in fact, from what I hear, since the renovation it’s worth millions.
I bought my tickets within a week and jetted off a few months later. I was the most excited I had been since Ed Sheeran toured. I mean sure, most of my friends were off gallivanting in Europe, but come on, I get a house, hell, a mansion, all to myself to two months.
I got to the airport early, maybe a little too early; I guess I was really excited. The plane started boarding, I took my seat on the window of the emergency exit isle just as I always preferred. I loved planes. The best parts were the take-off and landings, something about being in that moment of limbo, not quite flying, but not on the ground.
The plane landed, and a guy was waiting with my name on a sign, my uncle’s cousin twice removed had said something about his twenty-year-old college student who worked as a caretaker picking me up. He lives in a granny flat on the property, so he would be around the next few months.
It’s probably a good idea I’m not alone, considering I’m an eighteen-year-old female, living in a house in the middle of nowhere, in a country that’s not my own. I mean I’ve seen the movies, girl gets killed in the woods by bear/vampire/werewolf/psychopath/hunters/small child with telepathic powers, you just never know, I smiled to myself and walked towards him.
“Hey here to take you to your home away from home. How was the flight?” He smirked as he was speaking, and he seemed relatively genuine.
He was good looking too, I’ll give him that, “Hi, how did you know who I was, I could have just been walking in this general direction, but yeah the flight was good, long, but good.”
I was trying to keep my bags from falling down, when he started speaking again, “Here, let me take some of those. I knew who you were because I have a picture your uncle sent through.” He pulled a picture out of his pocket and then took some bags off my hands.
I took the picture and laughed, “Well that’s kind of creepy…”
“I don’t know, you look more beautiful than creepy, but they tell me it’s all in the eye of the beholder.” He winked, “We should get on the road, it’s going to take us a little while to get there.”
“Flirting in the first five seconds of meeting someone, I like it, lead the way!” I followed him to a low-rider American muscle car. It was beautiful black machine.
We were driving for hours before we finally arrived, and I thought the scenic views outside the window were nice, but then I stood in front of a river that was at the bottom of a trail leading from the house – which by the way was the most homely place I had ever been inside.
This place was like a dream.
I spent the next few weeks writing, and relaxing. I became pretty fast friends with the caretaker. He would take me to the most quirky places, and we ate most meals together. I honestly could not imagine leaving here.
One morning we decided to go for a walk down to the river, like we do every day. But this day was different.
He was telling me the story of this river again, of how it was said to be cursed. No one has crossed the threshold in generations because of this old witch tale that your brains would boil.
We were standing right on the river’s edge, when a rock broke the water’s surface and splashed us. I have no idea where the rock came from, but within seconds, I felt numb. I tried to look at the caretaker, but I couldn’t move. I tried to speak, but I couldn’t.
He dropped first, but I wasn’t far behind. We were head first in the water, but it wasn’t wet or cold, it wasn’t anything. I couldn’t even feel the water going in my lungs, because logically, I knew it would.
My eyes were still open, and I saw the water turn a patchy red, and then I let the darkness take me away. At least it wasn’t painful, was the last thing I thought.
By Naomi Eleanor
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